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Most often than not, some people might feel they look the same even after a lot of hard work at the gym, for months and years together. Sometimes they also change the gym thinking one would be better than the other for their specific fitness requirements. But they remain disappointed about their physique and slow progress.

Why does this happen? You may have been successful a little, but why are you not be able to build muscles over time as you would have wanted or planned?

The fitness industry sells you this idea or a dream of being jacked within a couple of months, which you tend to follow. But soon when it doesn't work out, you move on to the next option available to you, until you find yourself in a never-ending loop and end up disappointed.

But it need not be so…

This article will discuss five reasons why you are not building muscles and what can you do to activate progress in your fitness goals.

You Are Not Following a Structured Training Plan

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After years of working out, you may still have only scratched the surface of your body's muscle potential this is true for both your strength and physique gains. Going to the gym and merely performing workouts will not result in significant muscle development. Performing random workouts a few times a week can result in some muscle gain, but you must have a long-term strategy in mind to get the most out of your gym time. The term "periodization" is frequently used to describe this process. According to the International Sports Sciences Association, you should have cycles of short-term plans within your year-long plan at the gym to assist you in reaching your goals.

In other words, if your primary goal is to gain muscle mass, you'll need to alternate between phases of lifting to increase strength and phases of lifting to increase pure hypertrophy. To maximize your muscle gain, you might devote four weeks to high-weight, low-rep training to build strength, followed by four weeks of moderate-weight, moderate-rep training to maximize your strength. You must continue to alternate between these two training regimens to avoid plateaus and maintain muscle growth.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Essentials of Personal Training, you should execute sets of six reps or less with a weight between 70 and 85 per cent of your one-rep max during your high-weight, low-rep strength cycles. Likewise, the sets of eight to 12 reps with a weight that is between 60 and 80 per cent of your one-rep max to be performed throughout your moderate-weight, moderate-rep hypertrophy cycles.

Check your one-rep max with Epicvita’s  1-RM Calculator that will assist you in finding out the absolute maximum weight you can lift.

You're Not Eating Enough Protein

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When you lift weights, your body uses stored carbs and starts breaking down protein for energy. So, to gain muscle, your body must produce more protein than it consumes. And you need to eat adequate protein to achieve that. A hard-gainer may require up to twice the amount of protein per kg of body weight.

Therefore, develop the habit of including protein in every meal and keep protein and amino acid supplements on hand for quick fixes. Try to increase protein intake in your meals first before turning to supplements like protein powders and bars.

Remember to eat before and after your workout. A recent study in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism found that taking 20 g of whey protein before or after exercise increased levels of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Read another blog we have on this topic, Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Meal: Why They Are Critical?

You're Overtraining

male afroamerican athlete is doing biceps dumbbells curls while sittiing gym sport chair

Working out causes a lot of stress on your body, and you get the best results when you apply enough stress to adapt and attain your maximum potential, but not too much. When you can't recover from stress, you're overtraining, which can harm your performance and muscle gain.

According to a report published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, overtraining is characterized by weariness, loss of appetite, and a bad mood. If you're sick, have an unusually high resting heart rate, lose strength, or feel weary for weeks or months, you're probably overtraining.

The American College of Sports Medicine and the European College of Sport Science advocate a complete rest day once a week and plenty of sleep every day. They claim adequate water and carbohydrate consumption are essential for preventing overtraining stress. According to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, your body need carbs to replace glycogen in your muscles so you may continue to perform workouts and build muscle effectively.

You Don't Eat Enough Calories

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Even if you eat more than enough protein per day, you won't gain much muscle if you eat lesser calories than what is actually required to build muscle per day.

Let us take an example of a 25-year-old male 181 cm tall and 80 kg (about 5 feet 11 inches tall and 176 pounds). Here, the Basal Metabolic Rate, BMR, of this particular male is 1750 calories.

To calculate your BMR, you can refer to Epicvita’s BMR Calculator.

To grow muscle, you need to eat more calories than you need to maintain your body weight (in this case, that is 1750 calories). You will gain muscle if you train and eat enough calories (assuming your diet has enough protein in it). When you don't eat enough calories, your body has to prioritize. It uses them to keep you alive rather than to create muscle. So, a surplus of 20-25% calories than BMR would be a great start to bulk up and build muscles. This is why cutting doesn't build muscle despite intense training. Your body lacks calories to develop muscle and keep things working. On a cut, you lose muscle. Thus, the goal is to minimize muscle loss and optimize fat loss except for obese people, who already have a lot of stored energy and don't need a calorie surplus to develop muscle. Your body will use fat from other parts of the body to generate energy.

You Don't Get Enough Sleep

depressed young asian man lying bed cannot sleep from insomnia

When does your muscle-building process actually take place? Is it when you're at the gym or when you're in bed? If you thought it was gym, you're wrong about it. You break down muscle tissue in the gym and stimulate your body to grow muscle, but you don't truly grow muscle. It is while you are sleeping, the body repairs damaged muscle tissue and builds new muscle tissue to prepare for future stress. Sleeping and recovering build muscle. You would be completely putting your workouts to waste if you don't get enough sleep. You gave your body the signal to grow muscles by lifting weights, but you didn't give it enough time to respond.

Therefore, make sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep daily. And always remember that those WhatsApp notifications, binging on Netflix, or whatever else keeps you awake past your bedtime is not worth wasting your hard work at the gym.

The Bottom Line

To sum it up, several factors can influence muscle growth. However, these are the five most common reasons that negatively impact muscle mass gains, despite lifting weights at the gym. And at the end of the day, it isn't rocket science, and you don't need to overcomplicate it. Just fix all the items on this list, and you should start to see gains pretty quickly!


Al-juboori, A. (2020). The Relationship between Depression and Excessive Internet Use: Cross-Sectional Study among Medical Students. Journal of Clinical Research and Reports,4(1), 01–05.

Lamon, S., Morabito, A., Arentson‐Lantz, E., Knowles, O., Vincent, G. E., Condo, D., Alexander, S. E., Garnham, A., Paddon‐Jones, D., & Aisbett, B. (2021). The effect of acute sleep deprivation on skeletal muscle protein synthesis and the hormonal environment. Physiological Reports,9(1).

Cardoos, N. (2015). Overtraining Syndrome. Current Sports Medicine Reports,14(3), 157–158.

Franco, C. M., Carneiro, M. A., de Sousa, J. F., Gomes, G. K., & Orsatti, F. L. (2021). Influence of High- and Low-Frequency Resistance Training on Lean Body Mass and Muscle Strength Gains in Untrained Men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research,35(8), 2089–2094.

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